CAPE TOWN – The Junior Springboks won’t be going into their next match with the hope of lifting their first World Rugby Under-20 Championship title since 2012 after they lost to France in their semi-final clash in Rosario on Monday. Instead, it’s the bronze medal the South Africans will be challenging hosts Argentina for on Saturday (6pm kickoff).
And while Chean Roux’s team will certainly be disappointed that they didn’t succeed in making this their year, there were a few players who showed that they have what it takes to shine on more than just the junior international platform in future.
JJ van der Mescht
The Sharks lock has been big for the Junior Boks in Argentina. With his 2m and 120kg frame, the wearer of the No 4 jumper has all the skills of a No 5 lock, and he has done well to put them on display in Argentina.
Van der Mescht was massive in the Junior Boks’ opener against Scotland and was rewarded for his efforts with a try, and his contributions have continued right through to their game against defending champions, France.
This guy can scrum. But just like he can flaunt his power when it’s time to pack down, the same goes for when he has the ball in hand.
His deceptive mobility regularly sees him gaining metres, while his defence will also have gained him a few points.
If there’s one SA name that you better get used to, it is his.
The scrumhalf has been a key figure for the Baby Boks in Argentina. In their opener, he was way more than a link ... in fact, wherever and whenever something happened, he was involved. He was a threat around the fringes, produced solid kicking from hand and crisp passes, while he has also been the choreographer behind a number of the team’s tries.
This is one player who could have been devastating with more time on the ball.
While we didn’t get to see too much of Davids’ abilities put on show during the pool stage, the odd glimpse - combined with what we’ve seen him do on the Sevens circuit - has been enough to earmark him as one for the future.
With a game to go before Roux’s team return home, let’s hope Davids will give us a longer look at his rugby resume.